Wairimu and Njoki


The last time that Njoki came for her, Wairimu, awoke nearly entirely oblivious to her state. She had no remembrance for hours, contrary to the testament of her family as to what she did while in full conscious view of them. But her mother and brother, by now, had inevitably grown a bit tired of her apparent malady. And all the more, for her mother, this bore upon her soul a greater deal of torment for really, she had brought into this world a firstborn that was defective. And by her own right-Wairimu’s-she deserved to be born moderately well of being. Of which she was not. Far from it.


The first thing that Njoki managed to steal away from their household, was of course, its dignity. Once, rumors and whiff-caught was spread of Njoki’s existence, the resulting causation of gossip was massive wildfire. And to that it caused a lack of socialization for the family. Young Maina had to lose some dear friends he couldn’t have playing with him at his home, or others who simply just asked too many questions that simply just made him uncomfortable as to sustain such a relationship. But they were just being kids, naïve and inquisitive. Njoki was as though an eternal impostor in their household. Yes, they did recognize her right of presence therein, but her existence, her very being was an off. It wasn’t meant to be. And yet, she couldn’t really be amputated, she couldn’t be removed. However, she wasn’t always a permanent fixture to their household. As per the family’s account, Njoki began her visits sometime around the loss of the head of the house, Mr. Gitau, Wairimu’s father. And some of the shrinks she dully frequented after that, must have postulated that Njoki began her visits as per the grief of the loss of her father. That somehow, someway, that grief, that sorrow, mounted and piled into a wholesome entity, benign and autonomous on her own, but indeed cataclysmic in her intent. Every single time Wairimu’s mother was met with Njoki, she always noticed a piece of her daughter chipped away surely after a successive episode. Truth to say, her ‘episodes’ were only ever successive because if they ever weren’t, then a grieving was due. Anyway, Njoki had the awful habit of taking what was Wairimu’s and making it hers, in an oddly destructive way. And the first thing she did take, not only of Wairimu’s but of the general family, was their dignity. Unfortunately, next to be lost of them was their peace. Their house would eternally be devoid of whatever peace of mind or of state there could be. This was so for at any moment of their stay, there threatened the awakening of Njoki and her immediate terrorization of the family. She was a menace. And this family of three, that had so been decreased in such a decrepit number by the drastic and immediate coming and goings of prostate cancer, seemed to had lost much more than just a member of its own. It may just have lost two even.


But worst yet was that Njoki continually ate at this family’s heart, right at its soul. And Wairimu of them all, tried to wish such malevolence away, she really did. But it couldn’t just vanish out of sight. Njoki would come for her dreams, then her nightmares, and then she’d become her nightmares. Whenever Njoki would visit them, she would break plates and cuss out just about anything that moved or walked or crawled or flew, which was just about everything. And the worst part about Njoki was the ensuing dull, that followed once Wairimu came round. It was deep and endless, like the void, yet hopeless as though there were nothing yet better to look forward to. As though the light to her life were siphoned out but not instantaneously by some large mechanism. No, it was as though the devil himself were draining the life out of her via a straw, so much so that the reality of her draining of energy, of aura, retained but such that it happened so slowly, so agonizingly that she could measly just do nothing but observe; the humble witness, the meek victim. And it was at times like this, that Wairimu found herself cast into the void that she found herself reminiscing about old conversations she had with her father.


“Dad,” Wairimu would beckon the man, his face buried in a newspaper, “do animals have nightmares?” She would say petting the dead-asleep Lulu as she purred to her touch.

“I believe we all dream when we sleep,” he’d say, “even animals, darling”

“Do you think Lulu dreams about me?” She’d ask so naively, so sweetly.

“Yes, of all the belly rubs and milk that you give her. I bet she does”

“I wonder what her nightmares would be of?” Young Wairimu would pester on.

“If she could tell you, she would…” Her wise father would answer, head still in the newspaper, feet upon the footstool and television on, for its own self-amusement.

“She’d be able to remember her nightmares?” Wairimu would ask, “I can barely remember what I dreamt of yesterday!”

“My love, listen here… Never dwell too much on remembering the good, or you just might forget to strive for better things than such,” he would say, “nightmares are easily remembered because there is freedom in the darkness. And in the darkness, anyone is free enough to remember as they please without restriction”

She’d keep silent as though she understood nearly everything her father uttered.


“Yes honey?”

“What’s ‘strive’?”


Wairimu observed the entire melancholy that was her life, and wished that it were otherwise. She wanted, in fact, she’d have settled for any other state of being than having to put up with Njoki for nights on end. And she had no memory whatsoever of who Njoki really was or how she looked like. She just heard the stories and experiences from her mother and brother (she’d have loved to meet this destructive member of her family that caused them so much despair so). And it wasn’t as though Njoki decided to visit at particular times, such as, for example, if the weather were cold, no, she was just unprecedented, unpredictable. And when she came, Wairimu would be gone, absent, out of sight, but not entirely out of mind. But as per her, she was, for when she returned, she did to an aftermath of chaos. Wairimu sadly lacked friends, and for that she was both sadly solemn and innately relieved for she knew not with what words and in what fashion to describe to them the pimple that Njoki was to her life. Njoki had managed to dismantle her family, and Wairimu knew all too well that she wouldn’t hesitate for even a smidge in regards to something as volatile as a friendship.


Wairimu attended the posh Mombasa Academy school since she was just a child. Her mother adamantly objected to her psychiatrist as to Wairimu attending a special school for ‘special’ children. So, she attended normal people school. And mommy dearest wisely tasked Wairimu’s brother with her safety and well-being while at school. But hardly did she need him really, for even in the middle of a class, Njoki would seemingly pass by, unnoticed, and without a fracas. Njoki was not just some mindless beast, some twiddling persona: her brother knew this and knew it well. Njoki always seemed to have motive, and it was this motive that always scared her brother and mother both. Anyway, Wairimu was always ferried to school and back solely by her mother, with her brother alongside obviously. However, one day as it was, Wairimu simply stopped going to Mombasa Academy, apparently her and her brother had been transferred, and the reason for their abrupt transfer seemed to be the most peculiar of conversations that she had with the school principal in his office.


“Ms. Ndeti, is it? Good morning,” the principal said from behind his large mahogany desk piled upon by academic accolades of former graduates, alongside portraits of him with his family.

“Good morning,” a surprised Wairimu would reply, a cautious look upon her face, as if she was a shocked to find out that at least a member of staff, no, the principal himself knew of her.

“Have a seat,” Mr. Wafula would beckon to her. Apparently courtesy to even one’s inferiors was due and not uncommon in such a set-up.

Mr. Wafula continued, “Are you aware for what reason I have called you into my office today?”

“No, sir”

“You are aware that some mystery individual has been chalking obscene content about school grounds, aren’t you?”

Wairimu squeaked out, “Yes, sir”

“We know it’s you, Wairimu,” he said, “the school cameras caught you quite red-handed”

“IT WASN’T ME!” Wairimu raised her voice.

“Then who, pray tell, is walking about school grounds with a face like yours cussing out staff and students alike, hmm!” He said, “or do you have a secret twin we know not about?”


“And just who is Njoki?”


And at that question, paper and accolades and framed pictures hit the floor, glass shuttering at a mere implosion of instant unbridled rage. This being accompanied by a terrified Mr. Wafula being wedged into a corner of the room as it was reduced to literal carnage. Drawers dropped. Drapes were pulled and pricy desktops were obliterated within instant sight.


That day Wairimu went home with a two-week suspension, just as soon as her mother came and cleared up the reason as to her outburst in the principal’s office. And so, that was the last time Mr. Wafula ever saw Wairimu or her family ever again. And as her mother transferred her to homeschooling, as Wairimu sat through boring classes in her own living room by some stranger she came to know as teacher in her own home; she began to wonder as to where the name Njoki arose from for her arch-nemesis. It was a beautiful name for such a tragic, problematic existence. And then she realized why she named her so: Njoki was the kikuyu name given to girls that meant she who had returned from the dead. And indeed, she had.

Leave a Reply